Abington Heights held Honesdale scoreless for nearly four minutes with aggressive defense at the beginning of the game and led 12-4 with 1:38 left in the first quarter.
The Hornets answered back by scoring the next nine points to go ahead 13-12 with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter.
“They’re battlers,” Abington Heights head coach Ken Bianchi said of Honesdale. “We told our kids they’re never going to give up, and we settled for too many threes. We had a 10-1 lead and instead of getting the ball inside, we shot five threes in a row, missed them all and they turned them into baskets. We have to be more intelligent than that.”
Despite the Comets two key interior players, Tim Toro, a 6-foot-7 sophomore and Evan Maxwell, a 6-10 senior, sitting on the bench for all of the second quarter after picking up two early fouls, Abington Heights defeated Honesdale, 61-36, in a District 2 Class AAA semifinal Tuesday night at Scranton High School and secured a spot in the PIAA playoffs.
Top-seeded Abington Heights (24-1) will play seventh-seeded Pittston Area (18-7) Friday night in the district title game at Lackawanna College at 8 p.m.
Comets senior guard J.C. Show, who led all scorers with 22 points, ended the Hornets momentum by scoring six consecutive points. Clay Basalyga followed with a basket, Ethan Danzig then hit two shots and Show added another bucket to give Abington Heights a 27-13 lead with 1:09 left in the first half.
“They knocked us off our flow,” Danzig said. “We got up quick, then they came right back and got it to 13-12 and we we’re all out of sorts. We had to start scoring again and keep playing.”
Guard Nate Hollander gave the Comets a jolt off their bench with his hustle plays and unselfishness. The senior grabbed five rebounds and forced three turnovers.
“A lot of the coaches tell me he is a pain in the neck,” Bianchi said. “They hate to see him get in the game because he’s like a little gnat, he’s all over the place. He’s a spark plug for us. He comes up with some loose balls, he makes passes to the right guys and made a nice layup for us.”
While the team was able to make up for the loss of its big guys during the second quarter, Hollander knows they will be critical to the group if the Comets plan to make a deep postseason run.
“We practice the scenario, all of time, of those two guys being out,” Hollander said. “We were a little shaky, but we got it done. We’re going to need them for states.
“We knew we we’re small, but they were also small. We just had to play good defense, and we succeeded.”
Ian Langendoerfer led Honesdale (21-4) with eight points and Pat Hart added six for the Hornets.